Newsletter: Flyers enter stretch run of A-10 race

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Flyers enter stretch run of A-10 race

Five games remain in the regular season for the Dayton Flyers, who played their best basketball last week in beating Virginia Commonwealth and Saint Louis but will now have to bring the same energy to games with two teams at the bottom of the Atlantic 10 Conference standings.

» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. Saint Louis

The Flyers flew to the Windy City on Thursday for Friday’s game at Loyola Chicago. I’m heading there this morning. It’s the same drill as the last time in December: a quick flight from Columbus to O’Hare followed by a train ride into the city. I’ve tried to pick itineraries that start later in the morning this season so I can help get Chase, our 4-year-old son, out the door to preschool in the morning. I should probably hire a basketball coach who has a talent for giving motivational speeches for that one.

A reader asked me for advice on places to eat and drink around the A-10. I’m sort of an expert on that after 10 seasons, a walking Yelp review. Here are a few recommendations.

• I’ll start with Chicago. I was just there in December for the Wyoming game. I visited a hole-in-the-wall hot dog joint: Duk’s Red Hots on Ashland Avenue. It used to be called Donald Duk’s until the Walt Disney Company took offense. Photos of Donald still have a prominent place inside. The place even has ketchup, though I’m sure it’s meant for the french fries. If Chicago is passionate about one thing, it’s that ketchup does not belong on a hot dog.

• In Richmond, visit Legend Brewing Company on the opposite side of the James River from downtown. It’s got a great view of the city. You can walk there from downtown across two different pedestrian bridges that cross the river. I’ve been up and down both sides of the river many times over the years, running trails and scrambling on giant boulders that fill the river. It’s a beautiful spot and not far from the VCU and Richmond campuses.

• In St. Louis, if you like BBQ, Pappy’s Smokehouse is right down the street from Chaifetz Arena. Be sure to get a selfie with the Billiken statue after eating and before entering the arena. Then prepare to answer questions from family and friends about what a Billiken is.

• In Rhode Island, I’ve visited the Chophouse Grille in Wakefield, near Kingston, several times after games with local media who cover the Rams. Dan York, the public address announcer at the Ryan Center, is a UD grad as is William Geoghegan, who covers the team for The Independent. Bill Koch, of the Providence Journal, is my best sports writing friend in the league. We even had Valentine’s Day dinner together a year ago — which probably didn’t win me any points with my wife.

• In Philadelphia, you don’t have to stray far from La Salle’s Tom Gola Arena to get a cheesesteak. The Explorer’s Den on Olney Avenue is right next door.

• In Davidson, N.C., I visited a BBQ place, The Crazy Pig, before the game on New Year’s Eve. It has a basketball signed by retired coach Bob McKillop displayed prominently so you know you’re in the right place.

• On one of my trips to New York City, I made a point to go to a bodega in the Bronx to order a chopped cheese sandwich on the advice of former Dayton point guard Scoochie Smith. I’m sure his brother Malachi Smith would have the same recommendation.

Dayton legend to enter UD Hall of Fame

Brooks Hall broke the news of his own Hall of Fame induction in December on Twitter and Facebook.

“Thanks to Dayton and HOF selection committee for this great honor!” Hall wrote. “Words can’t express how appreciative I am!”

UD made it official this week. Hall will be honored at halftime of a game against George Mason on Feb. 25. Hall’s honor comes 20 years after his final game.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know Hall over the years. He’s an easy guy to talk to and has been a big help with many stories. He provides analysis only a former player can give you. That’s why he’s become such a big part of WHIO’s broadcasts along with former Flyers Keith Waleskowski and Josh Postorino. They all help the longtime voice of the Flyers, Larry Hansgen. No one’s going to replace Bucky Bockhorn, but the tradition of former players filling that role continues.

In recent seasons, Hall has provided a voice of reason on Twitter, where every loss means the end of the world for many UD fans.

“I always see so much energy spent trashing these players and coaches,” Hall wrote Feb. 7 after Dayton’s 62-58 victory at VCU, “so how about we use that same energy to show some major love after this big win on the road!!

Covering the Flyers from every angle

A reader asked me about my process in producing content for the newspaper and website. I have a somewhat unique approach to the job in that I shoot photos and video at every game — of every play, really — and combine all that with the stories. When I studied journalism at Ohio University, I was trained only to write and report. I learned about page design as well. Shooting photos and video was never something I thought I would do. That changed in 2007 when our papers starting putting videos on our websites. I jumped at the chance to take a camera to every high school and college game and edit highlight packages after the games. It was just a lot of fun, even if it was more work.

In 2012, when I was covering Wright State basketball, the company gave me a DLSR camera, a Canon Mark II. I learned through trial and error, mostly, after studying the basics of aperture, shutter speed and ISO and how they all work together. My wife, Barbara Perenic, who is a trained photographer, now with the Columbus Dispatch, also helped me get started. During that season covering the Raiders, I would often put down the Canon to shoot video for WHIO’s Mike Hartsock. I would send him a few clips at halftime. After the game, I would upload photos to our system for the website.

A season covering close to 70 Reds games in 2013 and photographing them all also helped me sharpen my photography skills. Shooting in bright sunlight or under cloudy skies was a difficult thing to learn.

When I started covering the Flyers in the 2013-14 season, I didn’t shoot much video, other than some postgame interviews. All the games were on TV. I focused on the photos. That was my approach for the next several seasons, but in the 2015-16 season, I had the idea of mounting my iPhone on the end of my camera lens so I could shoot photos and video at the same time. I felt the need to do that after Kyle Davis made a last-second shot to beat Miami that season. I wished I had video to go with the photos. I built a little contraption by ordering parts on the internet. I still have the same piece almost eight years later. It’s paid off many times, allowing me to get photos and video of all the big moments over the years. I use both to add details to my story that I might have missed on a first viewing.

During games, anytime there’s a timeout, I share video to Twitter and Instagram of Dayton highlights. It’s my way of bringing the action to fans who can’t be there and like to follow games online while they’re watching on TV. I don’t have any problem juggling all these duties. It gives me something to do during games. In the early years, I was just watching and taking notes. Now I’m making the most of that time. Plus, I get the best seat in the house.

Fast Break

Each week, I’ll spotlight news from around the A-10 or other news that might interest Flyer fans.

🏀 VCU stayed in first place in the A-10 with a 55-54 victory against Rhode Island on Wednesday. Michigan transfer Zeb Jackson made a jump shot from just inside the 3-point line as time expired. VCU lost third-leading scorer Jalen DeLoach to a knee injury during the game.

🏀 Fordham’s Keith Urgo has emerged as the favorite to win the A-10 Coach of the Year Award. The Rams, a perennial cellar dweller, are still in contention for the regular-season title as well as a top-four seed in the A-10 tournament.

What do you want to know about the Flyers?

I want to hear from you. Reach out to me directly at with your questions and feedback on the team or this newsletter.

Also be sure to follow our Flyer Nation Facebook page for the latest news on the team. I’ll have updates, photos and videos on Twitter, as well.

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